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Smith, Holmes, Haski-Levenhal, Cnaan, Handy, & Brudney (2010

Vol. 1, No 1
Fall / Autume 2010
65 – 81
Canadian Journal of Nonprofit and Social Economy Research
Revue canadienne de recherche sur les OSBL et l’économie sociale

Motivations and Benefits of Student
Volunteering: Comparing Regular, Occasional,
and Non-Volunteers in Five Countries
Karen A. Smith
Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Kirsten Holmes
Curtin University, Australia

Debbie Haski-Leventhal
University of New South Wales, Australia

Ram A. Cnaan
University of Pennsylvania, USA

Femida Handy
University of Pennsylvania, USA

Jeffrey L. Brudney
Cleveland State University, USA

Programs targeting student volunteering and service learning are aimed at encouraging civic behaviour
among young people. This article reports on a large-scale international survey comparing volunteering
among university students in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United
States. The data revealed high rates of student volunteering and the popularity of occasional
volunteering. It also revealed that other young people were the main beneficiaries of students’ voluntary
activities. Student volunteers were influenced by a mix of motivations and benefits, with differences on
a continuum of volunteer involvement between those volunteering regularly, those volunteering
occasionally, and those not volunteering.
Les programmes d’initiation au bénévolat et au service à la collectivité destinés aux étudiants ont pour
but d’encourager le développement du comportement citoyen chez les jeunes. Cet article fait état d’une
étude internationale à grande échelle effectuée auprès d’étudiants de niveau post-secondaire –
universitaire – en Australie, au Canada, en Nouvelle-Zélande, au Royaume-Uni et aux États-Unis. Les

and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE. 2008. Niyazi. 1998. These education-based programs are usually called “service learning” or “community service” and can be optional or mandatory. and studentled clubs and societies. Motivations INTRODUCTION In recent years Western governments have sought to encourage civic behaviour among young people. The external focus can result in some educational institutions excluding (some) internal volunteering roles. 2003). 2005). including the tertiary level such as universities. particularly the impacts of mandatory— also known as compulsory—programs (Taylor & Pancer. ceux qui en font à l’occasion et ceux qui n’en font pas s’inscrivent dans un continuum d’engagement bénévole. focusing on students volunteering within their local communities.” “boring. & Brudney (2010) données ont révélé qu’un taux élevé d’étudiants font du bénévolat. for evidence suggests that young people are likely to be socialized into pro-social (e. Action bénévole. such as the rising costs of education and the need to undertake more paid work.. Youth in particular are targeted. students face a number of barriers to volunteering. Some young people also have a negative perception of volunteering as “not cool. and develop student volunteering.K. 2008).” and time-consuming. Governments and the nonprofit sector have sought to address these negative attitudes and increase participation in volunteering. Davis Smith. based on stereotypical views of volunteering (Commission on the Future of Volunteering.g. Recherches interculturelles. 2007).K. One example is the growth in community service and service learning programs.) points to the inclusion and exclusion of various activities within the definitions of U. Student volunteering is sometimes conceptualized as outward-looking. measure. 1996). University students. Janoski. Youth volunteering initiatives are frequently based around educational institutions. Holmes. There has thus been an increase in volunteer programs for school and university students. However. Student volunteering is regarded by governments as essential to perpetuate an engaged civil society (Haski-Leventhal et al. 1999). Étudiants universitaires. universities. Examples include Campus Compact in the USA and investment through the Higher Education Active Community Fund in the U. Les étudiants sont influencés par une combinaison de motivations et de bénéfices.. Haski-Levenhal. Voluntary action. Cross-cultural research. 1999. In this research we utilize a broad definition of student volunteering that includes a range of activities both internal and external to the university setting. 1998). This diversity of definitions has implications for how we understand. Keywords / Mots clés Volunteering. Although service learning programs are a growing trend globally. although this activity may be organized through their university. n. thus reducing the time available to volunteer (Evans & Saxton. The positioning of curriculum-based volunteering and service learning with an element of compulsion attached is also variable. 66 . and volunteering has emerged as one avenue for this process. Handy.Smith. Motivations / Bénévolat. where students volunteer within the university. & Wilson. Cnaan. This observation is supported by data showing that people who volunteer while in school are more likely to volunteer later in their lives (Astin & Sax. Student volunteering can be broadly defined. et les différences entre les étudiants qui font du bénévolat régulièrement. Musick. volunteering) behaviour (Hooghe & Stolle. student union/association. research on their impact on participants and on future volunteer participation has been inconclusive (Berry & Chisholm.d. que le bénévolat occasionnel est populaire et que les principaux bénéficiaires du bénévolat étudiant sont aussi des jeunes.

These countries form the “Anglo-Saxon” cluster based on their large nonprofit sector but have lower levels of government support compared to higher levels of fee income and private philanthropy (Salamon. Cnaan. Canada. although there is a growing focus on this area in the United Kingdom (e. & Salamon. Most of the studies on student volunteering have been undertaken in the United States (Haski-Leventhal et al. 2007). in a nonprofit organization. Data were collected through a self-administered survey. It has been argued that there is variation between these five countries regarding the role of service learning within university education. These are common topics for volunteering research. We then examine the dominant motivations and benefits of student volunteering.. NCCPE. We report on a cross-national study of university student volunteering in five Western. the United Kingdom. the United Kingdom. there may be greater homogeneity across English-speaking countries. New Zealand. usually. The Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project established strong similarities across the third sectors in Australia. 2008). 2009). O’Brien.to 24year-olds reported that they were participating in mandatory community service (Hall. Studies examining the extent and characteristics of student volunteering in each country are discussed. Holmes. Holdsworth. 2003. 67 .. Sokolowski. 2010).9% of students in England who reported that they were required to volunteer as part of their study program (Holdsworth. mirroring the 6. Ayer. but not always. the United Kingdom.) and some Australian research on volunteering within individual academic programs (e.d. those volunteering occasionally. however. for example.Smith. and we reflect on the lack of comparable cross-cultural data. n. and benefits leads to two sets of hypotheses. 2008). & Gibbons. & List. Sokolowski. The literature review on student volunteering. Although Canada is outside this group and sits with many mainland European countries in the “Welfare Partnership” cluster. Tennant. 2000. Both clusters have a sizeable volunteer presence compared with other countries in the Johns Hopkins Comparative Nonprofit Sector Project. 7% of 20. Auld. and the United States. Canada. New Zealand. Handy. White. with service learning being more integrated in the United States and Canada than in the United Kingdom (Holdsworth & Quinn. & Brudney (2010) Our aim in this article is to examine the extent to which university students participate in volunteering and how students perceive the motivations and benefits associated with volunteering. These hypotheses concern the relationships between student volunteering participation and frequency in the five countries. occasional.g. in Canada.. and some are moving toward a compulsory service learning element. predominantly English-speaking countries: Australia. For example. Haski-Levenhal. The five countries studied here share similar conceptualizations of formal volunteering as carried out in an organizational context. Sanders. and non-volunteer) and the motivations and benefits associated with volunteering. both of which are proposed and tested empirically here. Overall. & Obst. 2010. and the United States. motivations. 2010). 2004. Lasby. LITERATURE REVIEW We begin our review of the literature by considering the similarities between the five countries studied here: Australia. Esmond. Many Australian and New Zealand universities have student volunteering programs. McCabe. New Zealand. we seek to understand how motivations and benefits are associated with the frequency of volunteering by comparing those students volunteering regularly. and the relationship between frequency of student volunteering (regular. and those not volunteering.g. it shares the characteristics of a large nonprofit sector. and the USA.

National studies of volunteering do report rates for youth volunteering (although the age of the youth cohort used does vary between countries)...6% and 44. These two U. a large longitudinal study found 15. 2007). & Brudney (2010) Holdsworth and Quinn (2010) point to a lack of reliable data on the rates and characteristics of student volunteering. human movement studies. Holmes.’s study (2007) of psychology students found a 43% volunteering rate. for Australia and New Zealand did not take part in the fourth wave of the survey (1999-2004) that asked questions on unpaid work. Handy. which found that the volunteering rate for students aged 18 to 24 years was 43. and not all university students are young people. This suggests that volunteering rates will be higher among students than among the general population within these age categories. Also supporting this notion. methodological differences and an absence of cross-cultural studies make comparing this data difficult. Haski-Levenhal. A study of British student experiences cited by Holdsworth and Quinn (2010) indicated that 15% of students from four universities were involved in voluntary work: 7% in volunteering organized through their university and 11% in volunteering organized in other ways. In two different Australian universities. interim (volunteering on a regular basis but for 68 . not all young people are university students. This movement toward flexibility reflects other evidence that the nature of volunteering has changed—an unintended consequence of modernity (Dekker & Halman. and movement science (kinesiology) programs in three Queensland universities. There was scant difference between the volunteering rates for full-time and part-time students (42. 2006). Although the majority of university students fall within the youth age cohort. In the absence of dedicated data on student volunteering. This conjecture is supported by data from the Australian Voluntary Work Survey (Australian Bureau of Statistics. the same as Esmond’s earlier study (2000) of social work and psychology students (44%). Cnaan.1% for those of the same age who were not classified as students. 2009). and see the Russell Commission on youth action and engagement. For example. Reliable national-level statistics exist on volunteering participation in each of the five countries discussed in this article. Hustinx & Lammertyn. 2005). 2005).9%. in the 2007 Canada Survey of Giving. and three Australian studies on student participation in volunteering within specific tertiary classes/programs found even higher levels of involvement. we must look to studies of volunteer participation more generally. and this contributes to the challenge of finding data that allow international comparisons. or occasional volunteering. studies were of general student populations. 2003.1% of students were currently volunteering.3% of English students had volunteered with a charity during their first year at university (Holdsworth. Macduff (2005) classified episodic volunteering along a time continuum: temporary (volunteering only for a short time). & Cnaan.Smith. One must be cautious when equating youth volunteering with student volunteering. a key message in many initiatives to increase youth and student volunteering is the development of more flexible volunteering opportunities (NCCPE.d. Regardless of the level of current volunteering. There is a widely accepted positive association between the level of educational attainment and volunteering (see Finlay & Murray. n. Auld (2004) found that 36. Across leisure studies. young people (aged 15-24) had the highest participation in volunteering (58% compared to 46% of all respondents) (Hall et al. compared to 20. People seek out and engage in short-term experiences that will fulfill their immediate and timely needs.4%. Even the World Values Survey is of limited use here. McCabe et al. respectively). episodic.K. 2010). 2003. a change that is especially popular among young people. Wuthnow. These data support the notion that university students have a higher rate of volunteering than the average for their age cohort. Brodeur. Individuals are switching from regular and long-term to shorter-term. 1998). Volunteering and Participating. and they sometimes move on to other fulfilling experiences (Handy. However. with some students doing both.

There are multiple benefits from volunteering (Hall et al. Volunteering is. non-volunteer) are associated with the perceived motivations and benefits of student volunteering. and. (2007) compared perceptions of the reasons for volunteering between volunteer and non-volunteer students.d. reinforcement or expression of personal values) and understanding (e. who have generally been considered as a homogenous group in terms of participating (a volunteer) or not (a non-volunteer).d.g.K. Holdsworth and Quinn (2010) point out the lack of a control group of non-volunteers in most research studying the impact of volunteering on students. to help gain experience to benefit their future career.). Ellis Paine. 2010). or impacts. Benefits were also associated with career choice and employability after graduation. & Davis Smith. 2006). an increasingly heterogeneous activity that occurs along a continuum. Using the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) developed by Clary.to 24-year-old age group in the U. 2010).. Volunteering brings outcomes. Holmes. “to learn new skills” was the second most important reason for volunteering among the 16.). A major motivator for young people is the opportunity to gain work-related experience. therefore. and employers (Holdsworth & Quinn. Musick & Wilson.’s Russell Commission (2005) highlighted the importance of an employability agenda for young people (NCCPE. Motivations and benefits of student volunteering Young people volunteer for different motives and benefits than older people. Cnaan. personal growth) as the most important volunteer functions.. We group our student respondents on the basis of frequency of participation.K. to learn new skills.. between the cohorts was that non-volunteers rated the career function (for example. For example. and more than half of 15. 2007). communities. and sense of civic responsibility.g. with long-term regular volunteers at one end and occasional volunteers at the other end (Hustinx. and our research questions how different levels of volunteer participation (regular. and Stukas (1996). skills. The most important reasons for volunteering were as follows: to help someone in their community. & Tryon. n. A national study of university students in England found that respondents gave both altruistic and instrumental reasons for volunteering (Holdsworth. and occasional (volunteering for short periods of service at regular intervals). n. HaskiLeventhal. both volunteer and non-volunteer students rated values (e. for example on a project). 2003). for students. the only significant difference. Astin and Sax’s (1998) U. Snyder. & Handy.to 19-year-olds in Canada said they had volunteered to improve their job opportunities (Hall. Instrumental motives and benefits—such as those relating to career development—dominate the volunteering discourse as students recognize the need to build their personal capital (Holdsworth & Quinn. 2010. 69 . to respond to their needs or skills. & Brudney (2010) a defined period. personal skills development. NCCPE. Much of the research on motivations and benefits of volunteers has focused on collecting data only from active volunteers. in this case. education institutions. occasional. The U. Handy. Butt. Haski-Levenhal.Smith. 2008). 2008). these career-related factors exist alongside a variety of other motivations and benefits. This variability in participation requires further consideration in relation to student volunteers. However.S. An Australian study by McCabe et al. work skills and contacts) more highly than volunteers. Gumulka. Lasby. 2009.1 (Low. and qualifications that can help them in their education and careers (Eley. research found that volunteering can enhance students’ academic development. Indeed.

. In each country a member of the research team distributed questionnaires to a minimum of 600 university students. 2010. in each country. the U.. Reid. McCabe et al. 2008). Handy. Toncar. with instrumental motivations being most important H2b Regular student volunteers will perceive altruistic motivations and benefits as more important than occasional student volunteers and non-volunteer students H2c Occasional student volunteers will perceive social motivations and benefits as more important than regular student volunteers and non-volunteer students H2d Non-volunteer students will perceive instrumental motivations and benefits as more important than regular and occasional student volunteers METHODS To test our research hypotheses. despite research showing differences between volunteering in different countries.. and Wells (2005) have demonstrated. in Canada data were collected at three universities and in the United States at six universities. Anderson. New Zealand. In each country the sample was one of convenience and often was limited to one or a few universities.Smith. As Burns. While acknowledging the multiplicity of motivations. Canada.’s research (2007) suggests differences between volunteer and non-volunteer students pertaining to career motivations. In each of Australia. Haski-Leventhal et al. This article presents data on student volunteering at universities in five countries that share some commonalities in terms of their political. Questionnaires were 70 . and the USA and in the 2008 academic year in Australia and New Zealand. and the USA. the United Kingdom. Holmes. and the U. To decrease possible bias. The data are extracted from a larger study examining student voluntary action across 14 countries (see Handy et al. & Brudney (2010) HYPOTHESIS We have previously noted (Haski-Leventhal et al.K. data were collected at a single publicly funded university. Cnaan. Haski-Levenhal. New Zealand.000 university students who were surveyed in five countries using a common survey instrument.. 2008) that a cross-cultural perspective on student volunteering is missing. social. We expect to find a preference among these university students for occasional rather than regular volunteering. we use data from a survey of over 4. and cultural histories and their volunteering sectors: Australia. different universities (at least in the United States) produce different levels and types of volunteering. This research leads to four related hypotheses: H2a Students will perceive a variety of motivations and benefits of volunteering. the literature review emphasizes the importance of instrumental and career motivations for student volunteers. over 600 university students in each country completed the questionnaire. Data were collected in the 2006-07 academic year for Canada.K. thus our first hypothesis is as follows: H1 More students who volunteer will be involved in occasional volunteering than regular volunteering The article also aims to investigate the relationship between frequency of student volunteering and the motivations and benefits of volunteering.

Where classroom access was not permitted. Third. To determine their motivations for volunteering as well as the motivations they attribute to other people. Holmes. because my friends volunteer. Although refusal rates were not officially recorded. natural sciences. culture. to make new contacts that might help a business career. & Brudney (2010) administered to students during their classes across a range of disciplines and faculties (social sciences. The survey focused on formal volunteering. business and economics. and survey completion was voluntary. students were asked why they volunteer. The “occasional” volunteers engaged in time-delimited activities or events less than once a month. to put volunteering on CV for admission to higher education. altruistic/value-driven motivations: • • • • it is important to help others. Students were also asked how often they volunteer. to learn about a cause. (2006). Handy. Second. In this categorization we follow Handy et al. humanities. the questionnaire was slightly adapted to the local situation. instrumental/careerrelated motivations related to resume building: • • • • to put volunteering on CV (resumé) when applying for a job. and to give one a new perspective. social/ego-defensive motivations were measured by the following items: • • • to make new friends. some surveys were administered electronically. engineering). and to help one get a foot in the door for paid employment. community organizations. The survey also included students who were not volunteers. we note that they were relatively small (in the neighbourhood of 0.05% in classrooms. These motivations are collected into three groups (see Handy et al. covering activities that were both internal and external to the university setting.” A broad definition of student volunteering was utilized. local activist groups. by agreeing or disagreeing with 15 statements (using a five-point Likert scale). sport or cultural organizations. neighbourhood organizations. The survey received university ethics or human subject board approval from each university involved in the study. defining volunteer experiences as “giving freely of your time to help others through organizations. and youth organizations. 2010). The items were based on the Volunteer Function Inventory as developed by Clary et al. First. student clubs or other university organizations. Cnaan. people close to me influenced me to volunteer. (1996) and were modified to include a number of instrumental motivations related to resumé building and work experience. Here we classify those selecting “weekly” or “monthly” as regular volunteers and those selecting “occasionally” as occasional volunteers. who use terms such as “genuine” versus “habitual” to distinguish between these types of volunteers. Haski-Levenhal.Smith. to make one feel better. and non-volunteers were also asked why they think (other) people volunteer. and system of public education. All students in each class were invited to participate on an anonymous basis. Students were asked if they had volunteered in the last 12 months in eight types of organizations: religious organizations. 71 . Although all of the participants were English-speaking. to work for a cause that is important. but higher when approached outside the classrooms). human service organizations..

Data were analysed using SPSS to compare across countries and between volunteers and nonvolunteers.081. The majority of respondents (68.9%) from Canada (n=974). This rate is higher than previous studies reported in the literature review. and recognition from colleagues/friends. Approximately 60% (61. Holmes. New Zealand (n=605). even those (such 72 . Altruistic/value-driven benefits were measured by: • • • self satisfaction. across the entire sample of five countries. references for employment or college. occasional volunteers. Instrumental/career-related benefits were measured by: • • • • • job/career experience.7%) from the USA (n=1294) and one-quarter (23. 2006. Domestic students. and development of trust among people in society. volunteering offers a good escape from one’s troubles. and fulfilling requisites for government or school program (service requirements).1% overall). Cnaan.0%). The median age for all countries was 21 years. & Brudney (2010) • • • I was advised to do so by a career advisor or family member. we used cross-tabulations to examine differences between the responses of regular volunteers. Profile of respondents The total number of questionnaires collected was 4. Musick & Wilson.Smith. Finally. the student volunteering rate was over 70% (73. and it relieves some of the guilt over being more fortunate than others. 2008). Respondents from North America constitute most of the sample. with about one-third (31. Haski-Levenhal. (n=600) each accounted for 15% of respondents. those completing their high school and university education in the same country. Handy.4%) of the respondents were female.2%) reported that they came from middleincome families. and non-volunteers and the chi-square test to determine the statistical significance of any relationships. social/ego-defensive benefits were measured by two items: • • social contact. Students also stated their level of agreement with 11 benefits of volunteering for the volunteer as derived from the literature (Hall et al. leadership skills. although in Australia more than a quarter of respondents had previously studied overseas. the opportunity to learn new things. and the U. dominated the sample (85. For both motivations and benefits. Australia (n=609). professional networking..K. Results Student participation in volunteering As shown in Table 1.

g.6% 31.6% animal welfare)** Religious 32. 2004.0% 63. ** Significant at the 0. conservation.7% 44.1% 38.05 level n Volunteering rate** 1409 1246 1151 1097 953 935 419 Students volunteer in a diversity of areas. Statistically significant differences in the rates of volunteering were found across countries. 32.3% 33. 2010. The proportion of volunteers involved in each activity varied across countries (p < 0.8%).5% 5. studies of general student populations (Holdsworth. The highest rates were in Canada (79. tutor. * Significant at the 0. Esmond.4% 27.8% 17.6% 74. New Zealand Canada Australia All countries Table 1: Volunteering behaviour among student volunteers Volunteered in past 12 73.8% 37.K. & Brudney (2010) as Auld.3% 78. 2007) that focused on volunteering on individual academic programs (36% to 44%). or some other activity that benefited youth.4% 30.2%) of all student volunteers were involved as a mentor.8% 41.6% volunteering counsellor)** Sport or cultural 42.5%). The United Kingdom (63.0%). with occasional volunteering being most evident in the U.1% 40.8% 8.5% 50.6% 19.8% 39.01.7%) had lower rates.2% 45.4% 22. 2010.0% 37. 2007). counsellor.7% 46. and New Zealand (74.9% 58. 2000.6%).9% 37. 73 .05).7% 79. Holdsworth.4% 48. McCabe et al.6% 40.2% activities* University clubs or 39.1% 33. and other young people are major beneficiaries of students’ volunteering activities (Table 1). Holdsworth & Quinn.1% 41. and 39. Turning to hypothesis H1. but still higher than reported by the aforementioned studies (Auld.3% 39. Handy.7% 39.8% 52.0% volunteering n= ** 2923 354 738 461 373 997 Area of Youth (mentor. Of those volunteering.6% 16. 2004.7% 37.2% 43. Holmes. † coach. The other main beneficiaries were sports and cultural organizations (42.5% organizations** Health and emergency 37. almost two-thirds of student volunteers (64. Holdsworth & Quinn.0% 58. USA U. except sport p < 0.01 level.7%) and health and emergency services (37. 48.Smith.8% 77.5% 57.3% 11..7% 25. Cnaan.4% services** Community activities 25. 2000. and much higher than the 15% reported in two U.7% 66.5% (e.3%) and Australia (58.5% 33.8% months n= 4081 608 974 605 600 1294 Frequency of Regular 35. There are also significant differences between countries.2% 22.6% organizations** Neighbourhood or 14. tutor.7% 61.1% 25. 2010).8% 25. 2010. McCabe et al.0% † Occasional 64.. Haski-Levenhal. Esmond.5% activist groups** † Percentage of those volunteering in each country.K. coach.K. Table 1 also presents data on the frequency of volunteering involvement.4% 68..3% 21.4%) were occasional volunteers. There were higher levels of occasional compared to regular volunteering in all five countries. the United States (78.2% 22. Almost half (48.4% volunteered for university clubs or organizations.

0% 31.1% defensive People close to me influenced me to volunteer 42.9% 36.9% Social/EgoTo make new friends N. Altruistic/ It is important to help others ** 90. Holmes.7% employment N.7% 56.8% 84. Not significant 74 .1% 55. Cnaan.0% business career ** To help one get a foot in the door for paid 58.5% * Because my friends volunteer ** 40.3% To learn about the cause ** 63.7% of student volunteers) and the USA (61.5% 65.S.01 level.7% 41. Motivations and benefits of student volunteering Hypothesis H2a-d concerns the motivations and benefits of volunteering and compares regular student volunteers (who are involved weekly or monthly).0% 61.5% family member ** It’s a good escape from one’s troubles N. and non-volunteer respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with each motivation item and each benefit of student volunteering are shown in Tables 2 and 3.3% Makes one feel better * 75.9% 64.1% 30.7% 57.5% 31.7% 79. occasional.5% 33.6% 68.5% 35.4% 50.0% 78. occasional student volunteers.5% 67.1% † Volunteers: Why do you volunteer? Non-Volunteers: Why do you think people volunteer? Percentage of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing.6% 60. ** Significant at the 0. * Significant at the 0.2% 57.0% fortunate than others ** Was advised to do so by a career advisor or 29.4% 71.0% Volunteering gives one a new perspective ** 79. 53.S. Table 2: Motivations to volunteer† Motivational item Regular volunteers Occasional volunteers Nonvolunteers Instrumental/ Career-related To put on CV (resumé) when applying for a 61. and non-volunteer students. Haski-Levenhal. & Brudney (2010) (77% of student volunteers).0% 72. 32.2% 51.2% Value-driven To work for a cause that is important ** 87.1% 70. The percentages of regular.2% 85.8% 40.3% 41.0% higher education ** To make new contacts that might help a 57.6% job ** To put on CV (resumé) for admission to 58.0% 43.Smith.05 level N. In Canada (58. Handy.5% 62.S.7% It relieves some of the guilt over being more 28.S. Hypothesis H1—that more students who volunteer will be involved in occasional volunteering than regular volunteering—is supported.0%) there were lower levels of occasional volunteering and conversely comparatively higher engagement in regular volunteering by students.

However.9% 78.1%) volunteers reported that they “were advised to volunteer by a career advisor or family member.” compared to 35.01 level.7%).4% 53.1% Builds trust among people in society ** 71. followed by occasional and then regular volunteers. Not significant 73.2%).5% 56.1%). Handy.S.5% college N.2% Occasional volunteers 77. Haski-Levenhal.5% of non-volunteers and 42. Provides references for employment or 72.2% Altruistic/ Self-satisfaction * 83.9% Job/career experience N. respectively) regarding the instrumental motivation “to make new contacts that might help a business career.6% defensive Recognition from colleagues/friends * 43. 64. Occasional volunteers seemed to be slightly more influenced by peer pressure than regular volunteers or non-volunteers. “Important to help others”—an altruistic motivation—was the most important motivation for all three groups.5% for non-volunteers. what do you think the benefits of volunteering are for the volunteer? Percentage of respondents strongly agreeing or agreeing.1% 70.5% The statistically significant results support a continuum based on the extent of involvement in volunteering (regular-occasional-non-volunteer) in relation to volunteers’ stated motivations and the motivations perceived by non-volunteers (Table 2).7% Professional networking N.1% 70.” although this item had much lower levels of agreement (see Table 2).S.0% 41.2% 59. Non-volunteers had the highest level of agreement. ** Significant at the 0. This non-volunteeringoccasional-regular volunteering pattern continues for “relieves some of the guilt over being more fortunate than others.Smith.8% 77.1% 46.S.0% of regular volunteers). About 30% of both occasional (30.9%) and occasional volunteers (57. or when applying for admission to higher education. the motivation “to learn about the cause” had similar levels of agreement for non-volunteers (55.2% 65.” and “volunteering gives one a new perspective.” These percentages were lower than for non-volunteers (62.2% 65. Cnaan.2% 80. Holmes. however. Other motivational statements had similar levels of agreement that were not statistically significant.7%).5% 70. Occasional and regular student volunteers had similar levels of agreement (56. (43. with occasional volunteers falling between the two (85.5%) and regular (29. & Brudney (2010) Table 3: Benefits of volunteering† Instrumental/ Career-related Regular volunteers 79.” “volunteering makes one feel better.S. 75.” The counter relationship is also evident.6% † In addition to helping others. * Significant at the 0.8% Service requirement ** 47. three other results of the survey show occasional student volunteers may also be motivationally aligned with either non-volunteers or regular volunteers. These results support a continuum of volunteering motives by frequency of volunteering.3% agreed that “people close to me influenced me to volunteer” versus 41.8% 72.0%).3% 60.7% 55.S.7%. but this motivation was significantly more important for regular volunteers (90.2% agreed) than for non-volunteers (79. for two instrumental motivations: to put volunteering on the CV when applying for a job. 75 .4% 70. Leadership skills ** 83. This regular-occasional-non-volunteer relationship—where the regular volunteers had the highest level of agreement—is also evident for three other altruistic items: “to work for a cause that is important.3% Nonvolunteers 75.05 level N. both of which were lower than for regular volunteers (63.1% Value-driven Opportunity to learn new things ** 85.9% Social/EgoSocial contacts N.5% and 57.

However. This finding could be seen as positive for educational institutions and governments that seek to encourage volunteerism by students and young people (Haski-Leventhal. for the study utilized a convenience sample. the high rates of volunteerism may be due in part to the survey method. including non-volunteers. Most of the universities in this study also have active campus-based volunteer programs.8%) are similar to occasional volunteers (53.. Holmes. Cnaan. Canada. despite our efforts to survey all students. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION This study aimed to examine patterns and attitudes toward volunteering among university students in different countries. We found a high level of volunteerism among students across the sampled universities in these five countries. & Brudney (2010) These patterns were also evident in respondents’ answers to questions on the main benefits of volunteering for the volunteer. The regular-occasional-non-volunteer continuum is again evident in these results. with fewer regular volunteers agreeing (47. The study used a broad and inclusive definition of volunteering and the most popular beneficiaries of volunteer activities were youth-based. the U.K.or program-based studies (e. predominantly English-speaking countries: Australia. and non-volunteers.” “self-satisfaction. The high rates of participation may reflect the sampling method and not be representative of national student volunteer rates in the participating countries. Other findings on instrumental benefits and social contacts showed agreement that these were benefits of volunteering. Students with some interest or experience in volunteering may have been more likely to complete the questionnaire.” where non-volunteers (55. the inclusion of students across a range of faculties in each participating university suggests that previous discipline. 2000. New Zealand.4%). And. which may influence volunteer participation. Educational institutions can use the attractiveness of these programs to draw students into volunteering. Handy. while students are active on campus. as with much of survey research where participating in the survey is a voluntary activity. where regular volunteers agreed most strongly.g..2%). The university-basis for volunteering may have implications for these students’ long-term involvement in volunteering postgraduation. it is likely there is a further selection bias in that those who have a proclivity to volunteer may be indeed those who volunteer to participate in filling out surveys.. Auld. but encouraging activities offcampus suggests the need to build partnerships with local nonprofit organizations and volunteer resource 76 . with particular attention to the relationship between frequency of volunteering and perceived motivations and benefits. Many of these organizations are campus-based and therefore easily accessible to students. 2007) may have under-represented the extent of tertiary education student volunteering.Smith. the wider nonprofit sector may not benefit to the same degree. and non-volunteers. This relationship occurs for three altruistic benefits: “opportunity to learn new things. We examined volunteering in five Western. and cross-tabulations used to compare the responses of regular. Haski-Levenhal. However. occasional volunteers. and the USA. and should communicate the outcomes that students contribute to on campus to the wider student body. Ten benefits were presented (see Table 3). responses were again measured on a five-point Likert scale. then non-volunteers.” and “builds trust among people in society. university clubs and organizations. occasional. and sports and cultural organizations. 2004. but the results were not statistically significant across the three different levels of involvement in volunteering. with the exception of sport and cultural organizations.” The counter relationship occurs for the benefit “fulfilling requisites for government or school program. 2009). Campus-based volunteering can be a route into volunteering. followed by occasional volunteers. Students were divided into three subgroups: regular volunteers.” as well as the more instrumental benefit of “leadership skills. Nevertheless. & Hustinx. Meijs. McCabe et al. Esmond.

with the exception of fulfilling service requirements. university graduates should show strong propensity to volunteer. Although a continuum of volunteer involvement is by no means novel to the literature (see. Our hypothesis H2c. was only partially supported. also known as the echo-boom generation2 (Hustinx & Lammertyn.’s (2007) study in which the only significant difference between student volunteers and non-volunteers was that the latter rated the career function more highly. which suggests that non-volunteer students will perceive instrumental motivations and benefits as more important than regular and occasional student volunteers. Nonvolunteer students agree more strongly with some of the instrumental motivations. 2009). reflecting a continuum of volunteer involvement. Occasional student volunteers did report significantly more peer pressure motivations. and they did not associate with social benefits. 77 . and career-orientated motivations (Handy et al. Student volunteers value altruistic benefits more highly than non-volunteer students.. for example. Occasional volunteering is a popular trend among university students. This finding confirms McCabe et al. There can be at least two explanations for these findings: first. Hypothesis H2d. 2003). is also partly confirmed. with instrumental motivations being most important. Regular student volunteers did report higher levels of altruistic motivations and benefits than the other two groups. 2008). Occasional student volunteers are in between regular and non-volunteers. 2008. due to time limits and a tendency toward more reflexive and less collective type of volunteering activities among Generation Y. involvement in service learning programs. but instrumental and career motivations are not statistically different from altruistic/value-driven motives and social/ego-defensive factors. and variously students’ vocational choices. This hypothesis H2a was partly supported: students do recognize a mix of motivations and benefits from volunteering. which proposes that occasional student volunteers will perceive social motivations and benefits as more important than other students. that altruistic people tend to volunteer more than others. & Brudney (2010) centres to further develop existing university-community relationships. Hypothesis H2b. Cnaan. 2010. Holmes.. We further hypothesized that students perceive a variety of motivations and benefits of volunteering. and regular student volunteers give more importance to the altruistic motivations and benefits. but the results are inconclusive for instrumental and social contact benefits. Occasional volunteering is popular among students and is also a factor in the high levels of volunteering reported. With higher levels of formaleducation achievement being a predictor of volunteering (Finlay & Murray.Smith. Haski-Levenhal. The legacy of university involvement and the transition of student volunteers into post-education volunteering both merit further research. that regular student volunteers will perceive altruistic motivations and benefits as more important than occasional student volunteers and non-volunteer students. In addition. or second. our inclusion of non-volunteers cements the importance of occasional volunteering as an activity between not volunteering and volunteering regularly. Haski-Leventhal et al. The findings show a significant correlation between frequency of volunteering and perceived motivations and benefits. Dekker and Halman (2003) argued that volunteers have a different ethos than non-volunteers. that people who do volunteer may prefer to attribute to themselves positive traits such as altruism. 2005)... 2010). Other publications from this research project have extended this cross-cultural perspective and investigated country differences and the relationships between participation in volunteering. Hustinx et al. but not to very high levels. These trends should be recognized and utilized to enhance students’ “volunteerability” and their ability to volunteer (see Haski-Leventhal et al. Handy. was supported.

to recruit new volunteers among people who do not currently volunteer. for example. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors wish to thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their guidance in focusing the paper and pointing out the complexities of occasional volunteering. and further research inclusive of both active and non-volunteers will be valuable. educators. governments of the participating countries could promote volunteering among university students as an investment in the future of civil society and the provision of voluntary services. Cultural perceptions of the meaning of volunteering may limit the possibility of comparison. Links between on. Finally. volunteering promoted as part of charity fundraising activities in orientation week (also known as frosh or freshers week). Nonprofits who wish to tap into students’ preference for volunteering could tailor their programs. we suggest that educational institutions and student groups encourage occasional volunteering by offering one-off group volunteering options and utilize social networks such as Facebook and university clubs to enhance occasional volunteering. & Brudney (2010) As in all research. although the sample is heterogeneous. and future researchers. and policymakers would do well to recognize. Holmes. for example. Furthermore. Frequency of volunteering participation—including not volunteering—to some degree influences the motivations and benefits of volunteering. opportunities. 78 . Students who volunteer are active both within their university and in the wider community. Handy. This should include investigating the nuances of how students engage in occasional volunteering. Based on this study.and off-campus clubs would also be an important feature. A cross-cultural study is always challenging. We suggest additional research in more countries. prefer occasional participation in volunteering. may be somewhat biased. Cnaan. and measure.Smith. An important contribution of this research is to extend the continuum of volunteering beyond regular-occasional (or episodic) to include non-volunteers. and therefore rates of volunteering in general. Finally. The growth of service learning programs (particularly those that are mandatory or compulsory) demonstrates a potential link between undertaking community service learning and achieving educational outcomes. Notwithstanding these aforementioned caveats. and promotion materials accordingly. A practical implication would be to tap into the different types of volunteering and offer students short-term as well as long-term volunteering opportunities. particularly in post-communist countries and those in the developing world. although challenging. Haski-Levenhal. The findings of this study could be utilized to better target potential young volunteers by various nonprofits and promote community outreach by those volunteering with university clubs and societies. does enable theory development beyond a single or dominant worldview. to further investigate motivations and benefits of student volunteers in a multinational context. and student volunteering regularly or occasionally. since the research instrument has to be slightly adapted. Finally. both internal and external volunteering contributions. project and temporary involvements. it is not random. these findings demonstrate that students volunteer in various activities for different reasons. educational institutions should endeavour to tie volunteering into career opportunities and highlight its instrumental benefits. This research strengthens the arguments that tertiary education students engage in voluntary activities but. cross-cultural research. Regular volunteers should be recognized for their ongoing contribution to the community. this study has limitations that need to be considered. like other young people.

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USA. Haski-Levenhal.au Debbie Haski-Leventhal is NAB Research Fellow in the Centre for Social Impact at the Australian School of Business. Wellington 6011. the corresponding author. (1998). Australia.smith@vuw. Email: debbiehl@unsw.Smith.edu Femida Handy is Professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice.nz Kirsten Holmes is a Research Fellow in the School of Management.upenn.curtin. Handy. New Zealand.ac. Smith. USA. Perth. Professor. Brudney is the Albert A. and Director of the Program for Religion and Social Policy Research at the University of Pennsylvania. Email: K. Loose connections: Joining together in America’s fragmented communities. Holmes. Australia. Cleveland State University. University of Pennsylvania. University of New South Wales.edu.brudney@csuohio.edu 81 . and Chair of the Doctoral Program in Social Welfare. Levin Chair of Urban Studies and Public Service at Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs. Cambridge. Email: karen. Cnaan is the Associate Dean for Research. Curtin University.edu Jeffrey L. PO Box 600. Cnaan.Holmes@cbs. Email: fhandy@sp2. Email: cnaan@sp2. Email: j. is a Senior Lecturer at Victoria Management School.upenn. R.au Ram A.edu. MA: Harvard University Press. Victoria University of Wellington. USA. & Brudney (2010) Wuthnow. About the authors Karen A. PhD.